There are more than 800,000 heart attacks annually in the United States alone. Cardiovascular health is a significant issue and one that needs more attention and awareness. Heart healthy meals are a great way to improve your cardiovascular health in an enjoyable way.
If you’re looking into focusing on better heart health, we’re happy to help. Read on to learn more about heart health, planning meals, and how your diet will affect your heart.
1. Understand Fats
The first step to planning healthy meals is to understand what can and can’t go into your meal. For example, did you know that there are fats that are good for you?
Many people believe that all fats are bad for us due to theories around gaining weight. However, many types of fat are healthy for our hearts, muscles, and general health.
The fats include:
- Saturated fats
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Trans fats
Of these, the unsaturated fats are the healthiest for our hearts. Monounsaturated fats include vegetable oils and have less cholesterol than others. Polyunsaturated fats are also found in vegetable oils as well as fish.
Saturated fat dominantly comes from animals, as well as coconut oil and palm oil. Trans fats are highly detrimental to your health and are chemically-altered versions of polyunsaturated fats. While saturated fats are still necessary for your diet, the American Diabetes Association strongly recommends avoiding trans fats.
2. Pick Your Carbohydrates
What about carbohydrates? Pasta, bread, potatoes, and beans are some of the most common sources of carbs. Should you cut carbs from your heart healthy meals?
High-carb foods are crucial for a healthy diet. These foods provide us with glucose, which helps power us for bodily functions and physical events.
However, it’s crucial to look at the sources of your carbs. Some healthy sources are vegetables, fruits and beans, and whole grains. Unhealthy sources include white bread, sodas, and highly processed foods.
Pick your carbohydrates carefully. While you need them in your diet, some sources are worse than others.
3. Cut Down On Sodium
Sodium is necessary for our diet, but an excess of sodium has severe health risks. Sodium – or salt – most affects our cardiovascular system.
Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, heart strain, and more. One of the first steps you should make is to reduce sodium from your diet. Low-sodium alternatives to some of your favorite foods, like soy sauce, will help you do so.
If you’re struggling with blood pressure, we strongly suggest that you discuss so with your physician. While your diet is likely a cause of this, there may be underlying issues or problems that need medical attention.
While you talk to your doctor, ask them about medications and procedures that can help. These can help to improve your cardiovascular health while your diet makes long-lasting changes to your body. If you’re considering medications, we suggest clicking here to view more about ARNi entresto so you can discuss it with your doctor.
4. Limit Portions
Whether your diet is healthy or unhealthy, overeating poses a massive threat. Many cultures have larger portion sizes than average, which is particularly common in America.
Swollen portion sizes increases the amount of food our body needs to process. Regardless of the food’s quality, this over-processing causes strain on our systems.
If the food you’re overeating is unhealthy, it becomes considerably worse for your body. Consider limiting your portion control for your diet to improve your health in many ways.
That isn’t to say you need to always eat less and be hungry. Think of the nutritional facts of your diet. Are you getting a day’s worth of fats in a single meal?
Changing what you eat is the best way to limit feeling hungry or discomfort. For example, one burger has an average of 700 calories, which is roughly seven apples.
While they’re the same caloric intake, you’d likely struggle to finish seven apples before feeling full. That’s to say nothing of the trans fats, high sodium, and other negative contents of the hypothetical burger. Discuss these traits with your doctor or dietician to design a healthy diet.
5. Focus On Fruits
Speaking of apples, fruits are a crucial part of your diet. When it comes to planning meals, you should ensure that you’re keeping fruits and vegetables at the core.
These sources of nutrients are among the best healthy food choices you can make. Many people adopt a vegetarian diet to adjust to better heart health over time.
While making your diet entirely vegetarian isn’t necessary, focusing on fruits on vegetables is vital. Again, discuss any large dietary changes with your care provider. Basing your healthy meals around fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your heart health.
6. Whole Grains
Highly processed foods are one of the worst things you can feed your body. White bread and pasta are two things to avoid, especially as sources of bad carbohydrates.
Instead, consider replacing these items with whole grain options. Whole grain bread has a more robust and rich taste while also being a healthier source of carbs. The same can be said for whole grain pastas.
7. Allow Some Treats
Ultimately, making radical changes to your diet can be too big of a change. Studies show that as many as 80% of diet adopters eventually give up.
A massive cause of this is thought to be people trying to radically change their diets on a turn of a dime. While you should avoid bad foods, trans fats, poor carbohydrates, and the like, that doesn’t mean you need to change everything overnight.
Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a few cheat meals over time. Pizza one night won’t ruin your progress and can be a fantastic treat, for example.
Of course, if you have medical issues, “treats” may not be an option. Discuss any such situations with your doctor to ensure you aren’t harming your body.
Planning Heart Healthy Meals
Heart healthy meals are a crucial way to improve your cardiovascular health and fitness. Monitor the amount of nutrients, fats, and carbs your body is getting while choosing the sources wisely. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a few cheat meals, but always discuss your heart health with your doctor.
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